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Castles of Scotland
Edinburgh Castle

Edinburgh CastleIn Edinburgh. Tel: 0131 225 9846

This most famous of castles dominates Scotland's capital and gives stunning views of the city and countryside. St Margaret's Chapel; the enormous 500-year-old siege cannon Mons Meg; the Great Hall; the royal palace and the Scottish National War Memorial are here together with the highly acclaimed "Honours of the Kingdom" exhibition which traces the history of Scotland's Crown Jewels and culminates in a visit to the Crown Room housing the Scottish Regalia and the Stone of Destiny. A new shop offering an exclusive line of specially designed jewellery is located in the adjacent Royal Apartments. The Vaults were where foreign prisoners-of-war were held, particularly those captured in the wars with France in the 18th and 19th centuries. A free audio tour is available just inside the Castle. Courtesy vehicle for disabled visitors (sponsored by the Bank of Scotland). Restaurant offering self and table service.

Open all year seven days a week, April to September 9.30 am to 6.00 pm. October to March 9.30 am to 5.00 pm. Last ticket sold 45 minutes before closing.

The site of Edinburgh Castle on its glacier eroded volcanic rock mass has shown evidence of an early bronze age earth and timber settlement.

It became a stone fortress towards the end of the reign of Malcolm III (1058 - 1093), one of the earliest remaining stone structures, St Margaret’s Chapel was built by David I (1124-1153).

In 1296 Edward I of England invaded Scotland taking Edinburgh Castle by storm.

In 1314 Sir Thomas Randolph, Earl of Moray, led a party of thirty men who scaled the cliffs and climbed the castle walls capturing the surprised garrison.

The castle was again held by the English in 1335 but in 1341 Sir William Douglas and his men pretending to be merchants entered the castle by storm, decapitating most of the garrison and throwing their bodies over the castle walls.

In 1361 David II (1329-1371) raised a large L shaped keep called David's Tower’ this was destroyed in the 1573 siege where Mary Queen of Scots supporters tried and failed to hold the castle in her name.

In 1400 Henry V of England besieged the castle but withdrew when it was reported that the Welsh under Owen of Glendower were revolting and attacking Caerphilly Castle in South Wales.

Sir William Crichton was keeper of the castle in 1440 when the infamous Black dinner took place. Using his position he invited his arch-rivals the sixth Earl of Douglas and his younger brother to dine with the king in the castle. When the great feast was over Crichton presented the Earl a bulls head which was the sign of condemnation to death. The king protested but to no effect, the Douglases were taken and tried on trumped up charges of treason and beheaded.

After 1573 the castle was remodelled and the half moon battery built on the site of David's Tower’, this helped defend the castle against assault in 1640 by the Covenanters, Cromwell in 1650 and the siege by the forces of William and Mary in 1689.

In the 1720’s and 30’s the castle was once again strengthened, this was put to the test during the Jacobite rising in 1745. Bonnie Prince Charlie's half hearted efforts to take the castle were the last military action the castle saw.

See Burke's Peerage & Gentry for more information

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